Telenor appeals against €1.9bn damages

A Siberian court has held Telenor liable for €1.9 billion (US$2.8 billion) in damages in a suit alleging it delayed Russian operator Vimpelcom's acquisition of a Ukrainian firm, a Reuters report said.

Telenor will file an appeal, calling the verdict, which ruled it should pay the damages to Vimpelcom, was without merit and it would fight to get it overturned, the report also said.

The lawuit brought in the Siberian city of Khanty-Mansiysk by a British Virgin Islands-registered firm called Farimex was an episode in a long-running legal battle with Russia's Alfa Group, co-owners with Telenor of Vimpelcom, the report added.

New York Stock Exchange-listed Vimpelcom was named by Farimex as a party to the lawsuit but has not participated in the case, Telenor said in a statement.

In addition to the damages, the Siberian court also held Telenor liable for legal costs for the suit brought by Farimex, a small Vimpelcom shareholder, Telenor said.

A number of Alfa entities were also named as defendants in the case, including four with no relationship or connection to Vimpelcom, Telenor said.

'The court ruled that none of these defendants had any liability, and held that Telenor was the only entity with liability in the case,' Telenor said.

Telenor owns 33.6% of Vimpelcom's shares.

Telenor opposed Vimpelcom's 2005 acquisition of the Ukrainian firm, Ukrainian Radio Systems for €156.1 million (US$230 million), saying it was overpriced and made no business sense.

Telenor also opposed it because it did not want to own via Vimpelcom a company in competition to its Ukrainian mobile operator Kyivstar.

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